It was 25 years ago (44 in the U.S) when a new holiday began. One where the entire world takes a day to reflect and honor this spinning planet we live on: Earth Day. But, appreciating the Earth only does so much. Nothing at all, really. So this Earth day, consider what steps you can take to give back to the planet you live on and protect it for generations to come. We’ve compiled 22 ideas for April 22nd to get you started to go green earth day.
In Your Home
1. Cease and Desist
Your junk mail that is. By taking a little time to stop all junk correspondences, you can save 69 pounds of paper per year. While you’re at it, switch all of your household bills to paperless billing.
2. Break Up With Bottles
Bottled water contributes billions of pounds of plastic to our landfills, and hardly any of them actually get recycled. Instead, use a refillable bottle and fill from the tap. You might be shocked to know, but most bottling companies actually use tap water for their product, and you can always attach a filter or use a filtering pitcher to get the same taste as bottled water while reducing your energy and fossil fuel use.
3. Eat Local
And organic if you can. You may not realize it, but most of our food comes from farms or processing plants at least 1,500 miles away. It takes a lot of fuel, energy and material to ship food to our homes, so instead, shop at your local farmers market and reduce your food’s carbon footprint while supporting your local economy.
4. Use Homemade Cleaners
Commercial cleaners contain harmful chemicals that are even more harmful to produce. Instead, use homemade or green cleaners which not only help the environment, but are better for your health and cut down on air pollution.
5. Kill Pest Naturally
Similarly, the more you can cut down on bug sprays, the better. We shouldn’t have to tell you why they’re bad for your health and environment, after all, they’re poisons! There are many home remedies that work, and often times all they require is vinegar.
6. Purify Air Naturally
Skip the air fresheners and expensive air purifiers. Nature already created an air purifier called a plant. One 10 inch houseplant can clean the air in 100 square feet of space, so grab a couple and decorate your home with them to save on energy consumption and prevent air pollution.
7. Meatless Mondays
We’d never ask you to become a vegetarian or vegan against your wishes, but, consider going meatless just one day of the week. Even one meal of the week. Swapping out meat for a family of four with another plant-based protein has the same effect as driving a hybrid. You read that right. That’s because livestock is one of the biggest creators of greenhouse gasses—so reducing your consumption even a little counts a lot. If you can’t live without your animal protein, at least opt for sustainably raised meat marked by their “organic” or “free-range” labels.
8. Add Insulation
Energy takes fuel, fuel creates greenhouse gases. Make sure that your ducts, walls, windows, doors and attics/ceilings are properly insulated to cut down on your home’s energy loss. The more you can keep inside, the less you will use, the lower your power bill (20-30%!) and carbon footprint. If you can’t afford to re-insulate, some budget conscious insulations include thermal curtains and a simple draft guard on doors.
9. Switch to Glass
This isn’t your mom’s tupperware, and thank goodness. Plastic tupperware, even the BPA free kind, leaks chemicals into your food when subjected to hot temperatures. “Microwave-safe” only means it can withstand higher temps better than other plastic. Glass or ceramic won’t leak any chemicals and they’re produced in much more eco-friendly ways.
10. Donate Your Clothes
It’s amazing how many clothes end up in landfills and how much energy it takes to produce new cloth alone, not including production. Donate your clothes to a thrift store or upcycling company. If they’re too raggy to be used again, convert them to cleaning rags to clean windows, or look for charities that take your rags and create something new, like a quilt for the homeless. You’ll be saving 27 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere per article of clothing.
11. A Brighter Idea
You may love the warm glow of your incandescent light bulb, but they’re shockingly inefficient. Switching to a CFL bulb not only uses 75% less energy and lasts 10 times longer, but it will save you up to $83 during the bulbs lifespan.
Outside Your Home
1. Watch the Grass Grow
Grass actually likes to be ignored. Keep your grass at a minimum length of 2.5 inches (preferably 3) so that it can absorb more sun and grow even thicker. You can also leave some, but not all, of your clippings on the lawn to add nitrogen back to your grass and cut down on fertilizer use.
2. Plant an Herb Garden to Go Green
Think about how much you’ll save at the grocery store by growing your own herbs, not to mention help the planet. They’re extremely easy to grow, fun and fragrant!
3. Start a Compost
Organic matter composts naturally, and it’s useless sitting in a landfill. Instead, create a compost at home that you can then use to nurture your garden and plants.
4. Drive the Speed Limit
And try to get all of your errands done in one trip. Both lower emissions from your car and cut down on greenhouse gases.
5. Better Yet… Bike or Walk
If your destination is under two miles away, try to bike or walk. Not only will you get some exercise, but you’ll avoid traffic, too.
6. Collect Rainwater
Check with your city for rules about collecting rainwater, but if you can, use it to water plants, refill ponds, wash your car and more while saving municipal, filtered water for uses involving consumption.
7. Go Solar
It’s a big investment, but one that pays itself off quickly. Your power bill will reduce dramatically and you will be taking a huge step to wean us all off fossil fuels and convert to sustainable energy.
8. Use Reusable Bags
Whether you’re grocery shopping or shopping at a store, bring reusable bags instead of using paper or plastic ones. We know it’s hard to remember to bring them, and sometimes it’s a spur of the moment stop, so to help remember them we like to store them in the trunk of our car so they’re always at hand.
9. Help Us Help You Recycle
You probably sort your papers and plastic, but do you sneak your batteries and electronics into the trash? We know it’s so much more convenient, but those toxic chemicals can leak out in the landfill and make their way down to ground water. Many companies like Ikea and Whole Foods are trying to make it easier for you to recycle by offering a recycling service in stores. Just keep those items in a bag in the garage and bring it in on your next trip.
10. Replace Your Lawn Mower
If your lawn mower uses gas, it can be polluting the air just like a car does. Don’t get us started on using fossil fuels. Instead, use a manual or electric mower to cut down on emissions.
11. Watch the Gutters
Check to see where your rain spigots empty out. If it’s in a small, shallow planter or surfaced area, all of that good rainwater is becoming runoff instead of returning to the ground. Use cement or plastic extensions to divert the water to your lawn or a good area of earth, and while you’re at it, try to adjust all water from surfaced areas to run back to the ground.